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Make a Joyful Noise

A USC Libraries Exploration

Judy Truelson

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For centuries, Italian shepherds have been playing bagpipes and folk oboes to announce the coming of Christmas. To build on your learning experience at Make a Joyful Noise: From Shepherds' Pipes to the Voices of Angels, the USC Libraries present a selection of resources that investigate the role of bagpipe music in communal Christmas celebrations. You can listen to contemporary recordings of shepherds’ pipes and related classical and folk music by browsing two of our featured music databases, and the Naxos Music Library.



Christmas Harmony (2007), J. Truelson


Featured Pieces from

You can listen to an extensive selection of classical music in the database that has been influenced by shepherd's folk music traditions. If you are visiting this site from off-campus, log in through the USC Proxy Server. A few of these musical pieces include:

George (Henry) Crumb's A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 Listen

Movement 3, "The Shepherd’s Noel" Listen

Andrew Russo (Piano)

(Edward) Benjamin Britten's A Shepherd's Carol Listen

London Sinfonietta Chorus, Terry Edwards (Conductor)

George Frideric Handel's Messiah Listen

Movement 22, "He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd" Listen

Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Helmuth Rilling (Conductor)


Shepherd's Pipe and Folk Music in the NAXOS Music Library

You can browse the Naxos Music Library for traditional shepherd's music, as well as classical music that has been influenced by this folk Christmas tradition. Try using the search terms "shepherd," or “shepherd’s pipe,” and listen to the pieces you discover.


The History of Shepherd's Pipes

How to Make and Play a Shepherd Pipe (New York: National Recreation Association, 1939) by A. D. Zanzig gives complete instructions for constructing the traditional treble, tenor, and bass pipes. It is available in East Library under the call number 78.9 Z34H.

The Story of Musical Instruments from Shepherd’s Pipe to Symphony (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1938) by H. W. Schwartz provides an overview and analysis of the origins and evolution of the principal instruments used in Western music. It is available in the East Library under call number 788.09 S411s.



Please contact Judy Truelson for research assistance or additional information about these resources at